Internet Freedom: The Information Superhighway Essay

2470 words - 10 pages

One of the nicknames for the Internet when it was first released to the public was the “information superhighway”. The name came to be because the Internet provides the average person with fast access to a limitless amount of data. For many, this is the type of Internet that they have grown to love and rely on while for others, the information superhighway is slowed by major roadblocks in the form of Internet censorship. With the Internet being relatively new, the contradictory messages that both governments and corporations are sending to the public are being strictly scrutinized. Roughly 2.5 billion people currently use the Internet and another 2.5 billion individuals are expected to go online by the end of this decade (Negroponte). The Freedom House predicts that most of the people that are connecting to the Internet for the first time will be in countries where speech freedom is severely censored; entire families could be thrown in jail or worse (Schmidt). There is an insidious world war currently underway but it is very easy to lose sight of it even though the stakes are enormous. There is a silent reminder with every stroke of the keyboard, that there is a war over the control of the Internet. Despite the controversy surrounding Internet censorship, the fact that governments could potentially censor things they deem undesirable could take away from the fundamental freedom not only nationally but internationally as well.
It seems that recently, Americans are taking the Internet for granted. It was only in January when the U.S. federal court of appeals took down the FCC’s net neutrality rules and President Obama was in an awkward position of having to explain why the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on both fellow Americans and its overseas allies. Since then, although there has been a bit of moral outrage over the allegations of NSA abuse, there mostly has been a lot of confusion about what net neutrality actually means and why it should matter. In fact, most Americans are probably resigned to even more NSA spying in the future and as for net neutrality, it is not going to lead to riots in the streets anytime soon (Basulto). The Internet is open, secure and resilient as it was designed and have evolved this way. Due to its open nature, the Internet has gained traction and has transformed the world by fostering communication and innovation while generating tremendous economic growth. However, governments are increasingly seeking control of their own domestic spheres as well as the flow of data and information between countries and, in doing so, are attacking the openness that represents the foundation of the Internet (Negroponte). The Internet is called “the world’s largest ungoverned space,” for better or for worse. The best aspect of the Internet is that it is a permissionless medium. The ground for the battle to control cyberspace involves issues of privacy, piracy and national sovereignty. Its main combatants are governments,...

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